Which would you rather have, four hours of uninterrupted NASCAR race coverage or a one hour highlight reel?
That’s a tough question these days. One I used to be able to answer unequivocally. Why would I want the Sprint Cup Series to go pay-per-view?
Well, when FOX cuts to commercial every five minutes, regardless of what is happening on the track, I start to give the idea of paying to actually watch the race I gave my Sunday away for serious contemplation. How many times do I have to switch to Twitter to see what happened? Or tune into MRN, because they will describe what I just missed. Or I open my wallet and subscribe to NASCAR’s online RaceView—since they finally worked out the bugs—which provides far more pertinent information on what is happening right now on track vs. the hundredth showing of “I ate the bones!” Even when FOX insists they’re showing us every possible minute by using the much touted “side-by-side” commercial break, I can barely see the car on the track in the minute box they’ve provided. And no, my big screen isn’t a 19” tube hiding in the dark recesses of my garage.
Basically, we’re being cheated out of the excitement of the competition.
There’s an old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Since we don’t fork over dollars for our races, should we expect to actually see it? Apparently, that’s debatable.
Let’s not fool ourselves either that when sitting in our living room we may be the solitary person in NASCAR Nation who is seriously giving this whole idea of paying for NASCAR credence. However, since I have to use Twitter to stay abreast of what I cannot see on the big screen, I also am treated to the instant reactions of fans and media when we break for commercial. A unanimous cry of, “Really? You chose right now to do this?” clogs my Twitterfeed.
That’s when FOX hits the button, you know. When the field is pitting or there’s a lead change or a wreck or a detonation or actually anything occurring of the slightest interest, because most of the time we’re just watching the train go round and round. Why would we even notice they cut for a local break?
Which is why I offered up the highlight reel option: would Talladega have been more palatable without the insensitive producers hitting the commercial button as defined by some multi-million dollar contract? Just think, we’d watch the anthem, start your engines, a few specially selected moments of Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick riding around and various replays of the car munching wrecks. Gone would be the hours of DW rambling, checking the radar screen and even worse, reruns of actually interesting races from back in the day. They’d be able to show the final twenty laps without KFC and NAPA distracting us. Furthermore, my day wouldn’t have felt like such a huge waste of time.
It’s not entirely FOX’s fault I’m ranting like this today. The day after a plate race I’m never feeling particularly kind toward my favorite sport. Finding out which ping pong ball remained on the playing field after seven hours of horrid TV coverage does nothing for my piece of mind. But to combine The Big One with an inept broadcast…well, I really could’ve done several other things with my day.
Had I paid $5, or some such premium, and had the broadcast gone commercial free for all competitive laps I would only be griping about the waste of material and manpower in the Aaron’s 499. Alas, that is not what happened. Instead I got the whole dinner: empty appetizer, an entree missing the main ingredient and a dessert that just didn’t satisfy—all of which was served in a soup of car parts. Blech.
At this moment, I would select the highlight reel. I’d have less time to decide that the racing product offered up at the superspeedways sucks beyond belief. I’m sure I’ll change my mind come Saturday night, when The Lady in Black gives us all she’s got. Darlington is a race I’ll want to see every last second of action. Would I pay cash to delete the commercials? Hell yeah.
Just as long as the entire FOX team goes with the ads.
Kyle Larson Stat
Car: No. 32 Cessna Chevrolet
Finished: 38th (DNF: crash)
Points Standings: 12th